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Creativity and the problem of automation

Crogan, Patrick


Patrick Crogan
Associate Professor in Digital Cultures



As AI-driven automation systems make their presence increasingly felt in everyday lives, the nature and value of human creativity is becoming an issue requiring urgent attention. While the disruptive impacts of digital innovation are often celebrated as part of a wave of ‘creative destruction’ that is progressing our technologies and opening up new ways of living, working and doing business, they are also calling into question existing forms of creative work and creative expression. The role and indeed the nature of creative working is changing. These changes can be understood as part of a longer phase of the industrial, technological reinvention of existence – as referenced in terms like the ‘4th industrial revolution’ to describe the
emergence of ‘smart’ systems, robotics, the internet of things and so forth (Davis 2016). They also present new kinds of questions and challenges to societies. This includes the fact that they appear at the moment when the successive phases of the industrial revolution are encountering the limits of the planet’s ecological resourcing of its onward march, with increasingly stark signs of the implications for we its ‘revolutionaries’. Against this backdrop, this essay considers human creativity in the age of AI-driven automation. It will argue that creativity and the role of creative work is a question relevant not
only to the development of the creative industries, but is absolutely central to the wider challenges to all of society in our time. Today, ‘creative destruction’ rules, but for how long can this be sustained? The cultural, psychological, political and economic value of creativity requires urgent consideration in order to grasp the indispensable role it can and must play in transforming individual and collective futures, futures which, at the moment, appear more in the guise of the absence of a viable vision of a life worth living.


Crogan, P. (2020). Creativity and the problem of automation. In P. Crogan (Ed.), Unboxing the Black Box: Reflections on Making with AI and Automation (16-22). SWCTN

Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 30, 2020
Publication Date Sep 30, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 21, 2020
Pages 16-22
Book Title Unboxing the Black Box: Reflections on Making with AI and Automation
Chapter Number 3
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